Water constituted the principle of all things
(Thales of Miletus, 624 – 546 BC)
Starting with the origin of Switzerland’s abundant water resources, the high amount of precipitation in the Alps, relevant hydrological, water management, social and environmental aspects of water are considered.
Since a large part of Switzerland’s precipitation falls as snow, the storage of water in snow and glaciers plays an important role in the seasonal distribution of runoff, especially in high-altitude catchments. Hydropower, fisheries and recreation depend on reliable runoff. Water therefore has environmental, cultural and economic functions that may at times conflict with one another. How this conflict is addressed will determine the future of energy in Switzerland.
Presently, over half of Switzerland’s electricity needs are met with hydropower. This share is expected to increase as nuclear power is phased out of the Swiss energy mix. As a result, ecosystems will come under increasing pressure in the future. Finally, climate change will also have serious implications for the seasonal availability of water resources that will affect humans and the environment alike.
The most important technical terms used here are explained in the glossary.
We hope that this understandable compilation will contribute to the spread of water knowledge in Switzerland. Everyone who contributed to the preparation of this information is sincerely thanked for their efforts.
Prof. Dr. Rolf Weingartner
Former President of the Swiss Hydrological Commission Swiss National Academy of Sciences
The portal “Water explained” is a product of the Swiss Hydrological Commission CHy of the Swiss National Academy of Sciences (SCNAT).